Today was the first day I volunteered at the hospital! Every Tuesday and Friday afternoon I will help out at the Children’s Ward, and every Wednesday morning I’ll be at the newborn clinic, weighing babies. Yay!
I had no idea what to expect and no experience in medicine, so I was a little nervous. Mostly, my goal was to not be in the way. But it turns out that nothing happens in the Children’s Ward between two and five pm! Those are visitors’ hours, so the nurses and doctors pretty much let the children interact with their parents and don’t do any procedures or checkups or anything during those times. So, for three hours, I hung out with the nurses. We watched Mexican soaps and read patients’ charts. So I learned that Armando is a jerk and also how to read medical shorthand (somewhat).
Reading the charts was bizarre, because the symptoms and diagnoses look so clear cut when written down. Everything is recorded in a precise, detached way, and the procedure is noticed concisely. Even though the charts were obviously improvised from old or unused “Ghana schools” notebooks taped together, it was very professional and efficient. So I read all about these children, who have malaria or malnutrition or encephalitis. One girl has nephritis, and according to her chart over the weeks she has improved, and then deteriorated, and improved, and deteriorated. What will happen to her?
After awhile I asked if I could explore the ward, and then I got to wander around and meet some of the children. No one really responded to my “Wo dinde sɛn”, maybe because I’m obviously a foreigner, but after resorting to making funny faces I think I got some good responses. I was struggling the whole time to somehow connect the children I was seeing to the words on the charts, and it just didn’t happen. I felt like I knew everything about the kids, just from reading about their medical histories, but then I still didn’t know them at all.
So overall it was uneventful but amazing. I didn’t do anything helpful or see anything that new, but for some reason, I can’t wait to go back.
Quote of the day, from my Philosophy of Religion professor: When people are in love, they are crazy.